NIGERIANS now have access to the services of social networking platform, Twitter, following the lift of the ban on its operations in the country.
The Federal Government lifted the ban yesterday, thereby enabling the United States micro-blogging platform to recommence service by midnight (January 13).
A statement by the Technical Committee Chairman on Nigeria/Twitter Engagement, Mallam Kashifu Inuwa Abdullahi, said Twitter has met all the conditions set by the government.
Inuwa, who is also the director-general of the National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA), said the government directed that the decision be communicated to Nigerians.
The decision was taken after President Muhammadu Buhari’s approval of a memo from Communications and Digital Economy Minister Isa Ali Ibrahim.
The NITDA boss said the lifting the ban was a deliberate attempt to recalibrate Nigeria’s relationship with Twitter to achieve the maximum mutual benefits for both parties.
According to him, the engagement will help Twitter improve and develop more business models to cover a broader area in Nigeria.
But the government warned the platform users to refrain from promoting divisive, dangerous and distasteful information.
It also advised all internet platforms against committing a crime by using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP).
”Such offence is synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction,” Inuwa said in the statement
The statement reads in part: “In the memo, the minister updated and requested the President’s approval for the lifting based on the Technical Committee Nigeria-Twitter Engagement’s recommendation.”
Listing the conditions agreed to by Twitter, Inuwa said:
Twitter has committed to establishing a legal entity in Nigeria during the first quarter of 2022. The legal entity will register with the Corporate Affairs Commission (CAC). The establishment of the entity is Twitter’s first step in demonstrating its long-term commitment to Nigeria.
Twitter has agreed to appoint a designated country representative to interface with Nigerian authorities. The Global Public Policy team is also directly available through a dedicated communication channel.
Twitter has agreed to comply with applicable tax obligations on its operations under Nigerian law.
Twitter has agreed to enrol Nigeria in its Partner Support and Law Enforcement Portals. The Partner Support Portal provides a direct channel for government officials and Twitter staff to manage prohibited content that violates Twitter community rules. At the same time, the Law Enforcement Portal provides a channel for the law enforcement agencies to submit a report with a legal justification where it suspects that content violates Nigerian Laws. Taken together, these represent a comprehensive compliance apparatus; and
Twitter has agreed to act with a respectful acknowledgement of Nigerian laws and the national culture and history on which such legislation has been built and work with the FGN and the broader industry to develop a Code of Conduct in line with global best practices, applicable in almost all developed countries.
He added: “Therefore, the FGN lifts the suspension of the Twitter operations in Nigeria from midnight of 13th January 2022. We encourage all users of the Twitter platform to maintain ethical behaviour and refrain from promoting divisive, dangerous, and distasteful information on the platform.
“As patriotic citizens, we need to be mindful that anything illegal offline is also illegal online and that committing a crime using a Nigerian Internet Protocol (IP) is synonymous with committing a crime within our jurisdiction.
“Considering Twitter’s influence on our democracy, our economy, and the very fabric of our corporate existence as a Nation, our priority is to adapt, not ban, Twitter.
“The FGN is committed to working with Twitter to do anything possible to help Nigerians align and navigate Twitter algorithmic design to realise its potentials while avoiding its perils.
“In his approval, the President appreciates the Presidential Committee led by the Honourable Minister of Information and Culture, Alh. Lai Mohammed, for the supervisory role and guidance given to the Technical Committee during the engagement.
“Similarly, the Presidential Committee commends the Technical Committee for a professional, robust and productive engagement with Twitter Inc. It also appreciates Government Regulatory Agencies and Internet Service Providers who implemented the FGN’s directives during the suspension.”
Inuwa gave insights into why the government imposed the ban and what both Nigeria and Twitter had gained from the resolution of the spat.
His words: “You may recall that on 5th June 2021, the FGN suspended the operation of Twitter through an announcement made by Information and Culture Minister Alhaji Lai Mohammed.
“Thereafter, the President constituted a seven-man Presidential Committee to engage Twitter Inc. Subsequently, in its wisdom, the Presidential Committee set a 20-member Technical Committee comprising all relevant government agencies. The Technical Committee engaged and worked directly with the Twitter team.”